The Ride Down
Friday afternoon is cold and overcast. We're flying through the curves on route 8 as it swings back and forth between the hills of the Naugatuck River valley, then onto the Merritt Parkway for the straight shot down into Westchester County. As is always the case before a big social event, I am focused intently on getting to our destination. I want to be there. The happy buzz of anticipation shades into impatience. I am not in the moment. I am about three hours ahead of the moment.
Tracy and I are discussing our expectations of the gathering at Tart's place. She asks if I think that all these people, most of whom haven't met in person before, will find it difficult to get a conversation going. Ha! No way, I respond. You're talking about bloggers here. If anything, there might be issues getting people to stop talking.
The Merritt becomes the Hutch which forks onto the Cross County which deposits us on the Sawmill which turns into the Henry Hudson. I love the parkway system around the New York area. Five thousand ways to get from any point A to any point B. My kind of driving. The city itself? Not so much. I tense up as we push our way in fits and starts through the traffic and stoplights of the upper west side, jumpy as hell in the chaotic mix of random, aggressive drivers. Tracy notes (as she always does) that I should let her drive next time. Finally, we dump the car off at a garage up the street from our destination. We have arrived.
Outer lock. Inner lock. Up the stairs. One more lock, but whatever we do don't touch the bottom lock on the door. So we'd been warned by my cousin Kristin, who had gone up to Boston with her husband Tom to do some house hunting and was kind enough to let us use their pad for our party weekend. The living room is bright and the place is huge, at least by "affordable Manhattan housing" standards. Best of all, it comes with a cat: The ultimate accessory for our two-day Living-In-New-York-City fantasy getaway.
Nightmarish Subway Interlude - Episode I
From 96th, we take the 1, a local, to Columbus Circle, where we change for the F, which will take us down and across town. It is an uneventful ride until, out of nowhere, a piercing, high-pitched sound fills the subway car. It is similar in pitch and intensity to the shriek of those office fire alarms which are designed to make you flee the building as fast as humanly possible. Except this was no fire alarm, and we couldn't flee. My head jerks around and I spot the young black woman at the end of the car from whose mouth this banshee noise had come. Before I can turn back she locks onto my eyes. With a look of unhinged, sadistic glee, she shrieks again. I hear her companion muttering to her to be quiet and then a defiant response. Again, the sound. I steadfastly stare out the window. Tracy reports that the woman is still staring at us. We're both starting to get freaked out. Several more auditory stabs punctuate our progress until, mercifully, we arrive at our Second Ave stop. Half afraid that our tormentor might follow us, we escape to the platform.
Mike is asking me if I like Curb Your Enthusiasm. I report that, despite several efforts by my friend Fridge to get me into the program, I cannot stand Curb Your Enthusiasm. Larry David's entire personality just makes me want to punch him in the face. We're sitting in the back booth at DBA, a dimly lit bar with a kick-ass selection of beer on tap. I learn that, despite his enthusiasm for Curb, Mike didn't actually care for Seinfeld (a first, in my experience). Leaving the fertile conversational ground of television, we discuss 70's era muscle cars and how he went from thinking the Mach 1 was cool in his youth to now considering all fast-backs stupid looking. We talk about driving styles, at which point he and Tracy form a Type-A Drivers Alliance and gang up on me. Increasingly comfortable as I move onto my third beer, I flirt with disaster by making a comment about stereotypical Jewishness. I recover by pointing out that I mean this in the best possible way, and that my wife is, in fact, a bit of a Jew Groupie. All is well.
Freezing in Brooklyn
It is 50 degrees below zero and we are 87 blocks from Tart's apartment. Or so it seems. We trudged like extras from March of the Penguins up the avenue towards our destination. Full bladders didn't help matters. Thankfully, the proprietors of the wine store we ducked into were happy to let us use their bathroom. We arrive at Tart's apartment and, staying only long enough to develop quick visual impressions of the environs (small) and of Chemist (shorter than I pictured), Mike and I deposit Tracy and the wine, then turn right around and head back out into the blustery tundra of Brooklyn to stock up on beer. Into the nearest package store. Mmmmmm. Ommegang. Mike goes with their eponymously named brew while I grab a Three Philosophers. Then I get a six pack of Magic Hat's HiPA and Mike grabs the Brooklyn IPA, setting the stage for an IPA-off later.
Tracy and I sit on Tart's couch giving Chemist the traditional Travellers Q & A: How long was your flight? When did you get in? Been out to see anything yet? Easy way to get the ball rolling. Well, that and the beer. Soon, the five of us -- Tracy, myself, Chemist, Tart and Mike -- are discussing blogs and blogging. We talk about Shakes' place, where we all first made each others' acquaintance, and how it had grown and changed over the years. We talk about various denizens of our extended virtual community. We get a little geeky, discussing the relative merits of Blogger's commenting system versus Haloscan's.
Others begin arriving. First some friends of Tart whose names I do not recall but who were quite well dressed. Then Angelos and Erica. Then Maurinsky, with Loki and Monkey in tow. Then more people from Tart's local circle of friends. The apartment begins to approach clown-car density. I slide from one conversation to the next in Brownian fashion, digging on the whole atmosphere as my beer buzz passes through Peak Sociability en route to the long, gradual descent into Comatose International Airport.
Tart is in full-on hostess mode for most of the evening, rolling out a seemingly endless variety of appetizers and finger foods. Tracy raves to me about the gourmet-caliber salami slices. I eat the last two of these, which prove delicious. Oh, but the mini pizzas, they are the treat that woos my gustatorial attentions and holds them in a vice-like grip. Damn these are good. I could eat a half dozen of these. (I believe I may have.)
The beer is amazing, just as you'd expect with so many certified beer nuts gathered together in one place. Chemist has brought a ton of fine brews out from the West Coast. Angelos arrived with a selection of additional delicacies. Mike and I had, as mentioned, done our part to ensure easy inebriation. The resulting Beer Environment is unlike anything I'd been exposed to at a private party before. The weakest brew on the premises clocks in at around 7.5% ABV. The highest is a sobriety-crushing 21% which will, I later learn, bring Chemist's night to a somewhat unceremonious close.
Eventually, I settle in next to Maurinsky on the couch, where I make feeble attempts at conversation as my consciousness ebbs and flows through our local corner of space-time. Here, the tale of the tape gets a little disjointed. I do recall an extended sequence where Monkey was determinedly trying to pull my arm out of its socket. I don't recall the epic WWF Smackdown between Mike and Loki. (Note to male party-goers: If you're at a party and the booze is flowing heavily and you have a choice between arm wrestling a nine-year-old girl or a fully-grown man, go with the girl. You're more likely to win and she's less likely to care.) At some point, a beer is placed in the freezer. Later, it explodes.
And then, just like that*, we're leaving! (*Insert head nods right about here.) There is the gathering of coats. The last-minute exchange of phone numbers and next-day plans. We trickle out into the streets of Park Slope.
Nightmarish Subway Interlude - Episode II
Heading back uptown. At some point, Maurinsky and company veer off to go to their hotel, Mike switches trains to head towards Queens, and Angelos and Erica get off. (The train.) Shortly thereafter, Tracy and I are standing alone on a platform, waiting to change to whatever train will take us to where we're going most quickly. Four tracks away on the opposite platform, there is some weird shit going on. A homeless guy is running his mouth about something and a sizeable posse of young gangsta-looking men start harassing him back. For a moment it looks like he's going to get beat down right in front of us, but then some subway track workers step in and defuse things. Creeped out by our second Bad Subway Experience of the day, we finally catch the A train back to 96th, where we walk four short blocks and two long blocks through the frigid city back to our temporary home.
The master bedroom of Kristin & Tom's apartment is the perfect environment for sleeping in late after a night of revelry. North-facing windows equipped with blackout curtains. Extraordinarily comfortable bed. We sleep like the dead until 10:00 AM and awake surprisingly refreshed for two people who had partied into the morning hours.
At 10:45 AM I call Tart. We plan to meet at the High Street station in Brooklyn at 12:15 PM. In my mind, this is a half-hour subway ride. In my mind, this is a half-hour subway ride. This is key: In my mind, this is a half-hour subway ride.
I happily squander the one-hour differential between the moment when I achieve readiness for departure and the moment when Tracy does so surfing the net and drinking coffee. We leave at 11:40 AM. At a local Subway (the fast-food chain, not the mode of transportation) we split a foot-long Italian mixed. Then it is down to the bowels of the city once more.
Nightmarish Subway Interlude - Episode III
The 3 approaches, an express. We get on it, planning to disembark at Columbus Circle as we had the previous day to switch to the A or C. The 3 sails straight through Columbus Circle. Fuck. Change of plans. We'll switch at Chambers Street. The 3 stops at 14th Street. We are informed it will be going no further. Quickly, we rush across the platform and get through the doors of a departing 1. The 1 takes us to Chambers Street. It is 12:10. I call Tart to inform her that we will not be in Brooklyn in five minutes. We frantically navigate a maze of tunnels and stairs to get us to the platform for the blue line. There appear to be no Brooklyn-bound A or C trains. We wait for an eternity. Finally, an A appears, but it seems headed the wrong way. We ask if it goes to Brooklyn. The transit worker tells us yes. We get on. The A begins moving uptown. I burst several capillaries. A helpful fellow traveller patiently explains that we can get the downtown A back to Brooklyn at 14th street (where, you'll recall, we'd been a while back). We arrive at 14th. The Brooklyn-bound side of the platform is completely taped off. We explain our dillemma to a woman on the platform who says, yes, the A is running to Brooklyn, but it's on the F line. As we cross through a tunnel to emerge on the F line platform, my brain slowly digests "A train running on F line". This gives me mental indigestion.
It is 12:40. I call Tart to inform her that we are further away than we were the last time I called. Another eternity passes. (That's two eternities in one trip!) Tracy and I kill the time looking for rats. We locate one. Tracy throws him a chip, but he's more interested in the newspaper down there. That's a Manhattan rat. We take several pictures of the rat. The stares of our fellow platform dwellers inform us that this has set our NYC street cred back at least a decade. The F finally arrives. We take it to Jay Street in Brooklyn. Now, the last leg. From the F platform we go downstairs, then back up to emerge on the A platform, where we must take the A one stop back towards Manhattan. We emerge from High Street station exactly one hour and fifteen minutes after our agreed upon time of 12:15 PM. In my mind, getting from 96th street in Manhattan to Brooklyn would never again be a half hour subway ride.
I think to myself: This is like living in HDTV when you're used to living in regular definition. Chemist, Tart, Tracy and I are strolling up the pedestrian walkway of the Brooklyn Bridge, approaching the Brooklyn-side tower. Following some confusion as to which of the many High Street Station egress points they were at, we had stopped for a bathroom break and then headed across. After all that nonsense, it's worth the wait. The day is stunning. The high-30's temperatures feel tropical after the previous night. The sky is cloudless.
Near the center of the span, we stop to survey the city skyline. Everything is crystalline perfection. You could stand here from sunrise to sunset drinking in details and not get bored. As we scan the southern tip of Manhattan, conversation turns to the absence of the twin towers, as it is bound to. I feel a wistful melancholy, which is an improvement over the sad ache of two years ago, which was in turn an improvement over the cold anger of the years before that. I ask Tart, who had been to the city before 9-11, if she'd ever had a chance to go to the observation deck at the Trade center. She hadn't. We move on, passing through the Manhattan-side tower. I pause for a second to stare up at the apex of the gothic arch. I love this bridge.
Walking up out of the subway after an uneventful (!) ride, we head across the street towards Union Square. At the center of the square is a huge crowd having what looks like a pillow fight. White objects wave frantically across the top of a bobbing mass of people. Suddenly, a puff of feathers bursts skyward. Yep, they're having a pillow fight. Turns out some dude organizes this event every year. Supposed to be the largest of its kind. As we skirt the perimeter of the madness, a man in a Batman mask rushes past us with a pillow and a manic grin, seeking re-entry to the fray. Man, people are goofy.
We have lunch at the Old Town Bar & Restaurant on 18th Street. It's mobbed. I head to the men's room, where I am bowled over at the sight of the largest urinals in the history of the known uiverse. The four of us then pile into a small booth and order the first beers of the day. A toast is raised: "To Not Being a Bunch of Weirdos!" Shortly, Angelos, Erica and Mary (a friend who they're staying with) arrive to join us. This is problematic, as we only have two chairs at the end of the booth. Erica squeezes in beside me and any concept of elbow room instantly vanishes. We try to make the best of the situation, but Tracy is getting more claustrophobic by the second, squished into the corner. Erica switches to Tart and Chemist's side of the booth. Crisis averted (for our side of the table) we partake of sandwiches, beer, and bar food. It's fun, but Tracy and I are definitely running low on gas. After lunch, we decide to break ranks and head back uptown for a nap.
Nightmarish Subway Interlude - Episode IV
The uptown 1 is the most packed subway car I've ever been on, and that includes those times when I'd take the Orange Line home from North Station after a concert got out at Boston Garden. Tracy and I are two of the last people to jam into the few remaining square feet of space. We're barely in the door. An obnoxious-sounding woman outside yells "What?! You people can't make room?" Half the car yells back "NO!" in unison. Just south of 72nd Street, the conductor announces that she's been informed that our train will be running express between 72nd and 96th. Good for Tracy and me. Bad, apparently, for the droves of people who exit at 72nd. Not for the first time, I wonder what kind of half-assed show NYC Transit is running this weekend.
Our nap lasted all of 30 minutes. Pre-nap activities included 1.) An argument in Duane Reade regarding precisely how long a person should be gone for when they know their husband is already waiting in the checkout line, and 2.) A shave that was so ferociously bad it took five paper towels to sop up all the blood afterwards. (Note to my male readers: Do not ever use Bic's "Comfort 3" series disposable razor. In fact, do not use disposable razors, period.)
Nightmarish Subway Interlude - Episode V
We hop on the 1 train to head down to 51st Street, near where we'll be having dinner. As we pull into 72nd Street the conductor announces that our train will be running express to 42nd Street, nine short blocks further south than we want to be and two long blocks further east. I convince Tracy that it will be quicker to get off at 72nd and hoof it the remaining 21 short blocks. Foolishly, she acquiesces. By the time we hit 9th Ave and 60th, my shins feel ready to explode out the front of my pants and the ball of my right foot, still all fucked up from my Karate injury last Fall, is screaming at me "It's only 20 blocks! It's only 20 blocks! Fuckin' smart-ass!"
Ever see one of those art house films that takes place in a restaurant and is basically one long conversation between colorful characters and every minute of that conversation is witty and fascinating? We are living one. Tart had made reservations at Uncle Nick's, a Greek restaurant, for 8:00 PM. Angelos had then suggested meeting an hour early at Ouzaria, a bar/restaurant that is run as an adjunct to Uncle Nick's, for pre-dinner cocktails. Once the first eight of our gang is installed, however, Tart smartly decides that's where we'll stay.
The atmosphere is perfect. Intimate enough for sustained conversation without being too quiet or stuffy. Eventually, we fill four tables for four. In addition to the previous evening's 'Festers, we meet Leslie of the blog Plum Crazy and a Shaker named Space Cowboy and his girlfriend.
For four straight hours we sit and eat and drink and talk in a set of ever-shifting conversational constellations. Bottle of wine after bottle of wine arrives on our table at Angelos' expert direction. Every fifteen minutes or so the room is punctuated by a whomp! sound and a burst of light as the waiters bring out cast-iron plates of brandy-soaked cheese and ignite them. (This particular appetizer was the food highlight of my night. I may even have to try it at home, after I get the special "Cheese Fire Rider" added to our homeowners policy.)
I won't even attempt to reconstruct the dialog going on around me. You truly had to be there.
I will mention that this is when Tracy eats a fish eyeball. Tart's friend Amy throws out an open $5 dare on the matter. Tracy has stepped away for a minute, but I volunteer her eyeball-eating services. See, we had previously arranged that, were we ever to land a spot as contestants on The Amazing Race, her job would be to eat any gross stuff that came our way. I figure this is a great opportunity to see what she is made of. She returns and I explain the bet. Without hesitation she agrees and a plate is passed our way. Now, if forced to do this, I would swallow the little suckers like gel caps. Not my Tracy. She chews the thing, crunching the lens and savoring (blech) the salty taste. The audience is shocked and awed, particularly Monkey, who, rumor has it, has since built a shrine to my wife in her room.
Around 11:00 PM we finally call for the check. $65 a person for four hours of continuous enjoyment. A pittance.
Each of the rathskeller-like tables has giant beer towers on them. Good sign. About a dozen of us had trundled our sated asses over to a bar a few blocks from Ouzaria. The final hours of TartFest had arrived. Above the bar a soccer game plays, leading me to strike up a conversation with Tart and Chemist on the subject. Both are avid soccer fans. This does not surprise me so much with regard to Chemist, who likes sports generally. Tart, however, does not like any other sports at all. Just soccer. I find this baffling and say as much. She dismisses me with a disdainful glare.
After a couple of beers, I switch, at long last, to whiskey. It is the only way to wrap things up. I buy a couple of glasses of Jameson's for Chemist and myself. (He later reports that this stood him in good stead, fortifying his buzz for the train ride home.) Some time in the early hours of morning, everyone pours out of the bar and says their goodbyes. A five minute cab ride and Tracy and I are crashed out in bed.
Hangover, Cat, Bagels
Again, we roll out of bed around 10:00 AM. Unlike the previous day, I have a pretty brutal hangover. I cannot not close my eyes without feeling intense vertigo. We call Tart and confirm that she and Chemist will be stopping by for bagels and coffee before we leave town.
Tracy goes to the store and brings back bagels and a giant Gatorade for me. I play with the cat. Surf the web. Play with the now somewhat spastic cat. Tracy makes coffee around noon. (No word from Tart.) We drink coffee. Watch the Huskies game on TV. Play with the increasingly freaked out cat. Finally, around 1:30 PM, Tart calls from up the street. The Subway Gods have taken her and Chemist on a wild ride through Queens on their journey from Brooklyn to the upper west side. (I believe this was their way of admonishing her for busting my balls the previous day.)
Together, we partake of delicious New York City deli-style bagels.
And then it is time to go.
The End. For now...
Jane's Addiction - "The Riches" (Strays)
I like this album. It's still a little weird listening to a Jane's Addiction album that consists solely of tight, traditionally-structured, highly-produced songs but... I like this album.
Soundgarden - "Mind Riot" (Badmotorfinger)
"I'm luck's last match struck in the pouring down wind."
They Might Be Giants - "Nothing's Gonna Change My Clothes" (They Might Be Giants)
"All the people are so happy now, their heads are caving in."
The Beatles - "Girl" ((Rubber Soul)
"When you say she's looking good, she acts as if it's understood."
Godsmack - "Situation" (Godsmack)
Just for kicks I think the other guys from Godsmack should put Sully on Wellbutrin for a month and then record an album.
Faith No More - "Midnight Cowboy" (Angel Dust)
Dreamy little instrumental. Have to add this to my "melancholy" playlist.
Everclear - "So Much For The Afterglow" (So Much For The Afterglow)
Good song. Great album. Their tightest overall effort, in my opinion.
Queen - "Dragon Attack (1991 Remix by R.A.K. and Jack Benson)" (The Game)
Wow, a remix that adds significantly to the original. Funky Queen, yo.
The BoDeans - "Someday" (Outside Looking In)
Funny. I like these guys, but they're a band I never would have listened to if I hadn't seen them live.
Nine Inch Nails - "The Great Below" (The Fragile)
"I can still feel you, even so far away"
The Beatles - "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" (Abbey Road)
One of my favorite Beatles songs ever. And I say that knowing full well how many there are to choose from...
Van Halen - "Push Comes To Shove" (Fair Warning)
"Does it seem cold in here to you? What's there to do tonight? Anything?"
Iggy Pop - "Candy" (Brick By Brick)
"Beautiful beautiful girl from the north - You burned my heart with a flickering torch."
Check out the picture of Laura Bush in this post at Josh Marshall's place. Is it my imagination, or is she starting to look like her husband? Downward jut to the nose, angry squint to the eyes, pugnacious cast to the lips. (shudder) That picture is skeeving me out.
Tags: Laura Bush
12:13 PM: Finishing on a high note here. Tracy is raving about how Diane Keaton looks. (She does look phenomenal tonight.) And the Best Picture Oscar goes to... The Departed! Which, coincidentally, is what we are. We are departing for the bedroom. Good night.
12:08 PM: Scorsese! Awesome. This dude rocks. Can't believe he's never won before.
12:04 PM: Good lord, Forrest. Enough with the over-wrought acceptance speeches.
11:59 PM: Do you think that, when Cadillac was picking the Pogues' Sunnyside Of The Street as the song for their shitty new SUV ad -- the ad which features an obviously well-off couple and their kids departing their spotless McMansion -- that they actually listened to what Shane McGowan was singing? You know, the part where he says "with a heart full of hate and a lust for vomit"? 'Cause I'm thinking they didn't. Either that or I just witnessed the world's worst attempt at irony in advertising.
11:54 PM: Yay! Helen Mirren! Yay! Oh, and hey, Oscar people: These little stories the voice-over guy is telling as the winners walk up to the stage? Not working.
11:52 PM: Holy shit. Phillip Seymour Hoffman looks like he just crawled out of a dumpster.
11:51 PM: OK, here's the deal: If the very next thing they do is not one of the three major awards, Tracy and I are going to bed in protest.
11:42 PM: Best film editing. At almost quarter to midnight they're doing best film editing. This is after another shitty, pointless, ten-minute montage. Unbelievable. These people are sadists.
11:37 PM: You. Have. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me.
11:24 PM: Six minutes to go until the scheduled end time, we've got the Big Three awards to get through, and they're fucking around with this endless Motowny-Gospel shit. I think we've seen more musical performances tonight than there were at the fucking Grammys.
10:54 PM: These long-ass montages for shit that I don't care about are getting seriously annoying.
10:48 PM: An Inconvenient Truth won best documentary. Excellent. Ooooh. The director is thanking Al for his vision. I'm getting a little verklempt.
10:39 PM: Tracy's out like a light on the couch. Still have Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Film left to go, and yet they're talking about more performances and crap. Argh. And as kate said, what's with shifting this back half an hour? It's already the world's longest awards show, and they had to push it further back to boot?
9:45 PM: Not a fan of the new-school computer-animated cartoons -- that shit where they mixed the "nominees" in with the audience was fucking cornball -- but I am glad that Happy Feet beat out that stupid Cars flick. That movie just looked like one giant marketing scam from start to finish.
9:36 PM: Ah! Al Gore. Thank you, Oscar people. I love Al Gore. God, I so hope he runs in '08. He'd be the perfect antidote to Hillary... Oh, Al, you son of a bitch. I thought he was really going to announce. Right there. Damn you, man. Don't toy with me like that. (Tracy: "I would have actually peed myself.")
9:35 PM: Back-to-back musical performances? Come on. Trying to stay awake here. Give me something.
9:14 PM: That sound-effects symphony group was wicked cool. Took me ten full seconds to figure out what the hell they were doing - that they were making the sounds I thought were coming out of the screen behind them. That's wild.
9:06 PM: West Bank Story. Priceless. Have to see that. Where do you see shorts, though, outside of film festivals? I wonder if YouTube has this sort of thing now.
9:04 PM: Things are getting ugly right now. The Norwegian woman who just won for best animated short? Tracy was cracking on her hair something fierce. Good thing I took my allergy meds, because the fur is flying.
9:00 PM: Pan's Labyrinth is 2-for-2 in the early going. Can't wait to see that when it comes out on DVD. Oh, and the Jack Black/Will Ferrell thing? Excellent.
8:52 PM: Decent opening monologue by Ellen. I've always liked her. She's rarely hysterically funny, but she has a certain goofy, disarming quality that I find endearing.
8:37 PM: Tracy just pointed out that the audio seems really out-of-sync. That true for anyone else?
8:34 PM: Fuck. I just called a woman "dude". Goddamn it. Great intro, though.
8:23 PM: Anyone know why a movie about Idi Amin is titled The Last King Of Scotland? Yeah, I realize I could probably look up the answer. I'm lazy. Hook me up.
8:16 PM: Tracy on Eddie Murphy's girlfriend: "That dress is just fucking terrible. I bet she made it." (She's right, btw. It looks like an alien outfit from the original Star Trek.)
8:14 PM: Cameron Diaz's dress is kind of bizarre. The top of it looks like the way you'd see a napkin folded at a fancy wedding or something. But man, oh, man does it show off her ass. So I guess no complaints.
8:11 PM: (Note: Tracy has a couple of glasses of wine in her, so the cattiness is only going to go downhill from here...)
8:10 PM: Tracy: "Fucking Beyonce." Me: "What?" Tracy: "She only became famous because she was the pretty one. She's not the best singer or anything. She just looks good."
8:06 PM: Tracy: "Jennifer Hudson's dress is terrible. It looks like one the villain outfits from Flash Gordon... It's cool that she has pockets in it, though."
8:04 PM: Tracy: "Leonardo DiCaprio looks awesome in his tux. I actually see him as a man now after seeing him in The Aviator."
7:53 PM: Tracy: "Can you put in there 'Why can't Penelope Cruz speak English yet?'" (Why, yes, honey. I can. Rrrrraeewhh.)
7:52 PM: Tracy: "Meryl Streep is a amazing. She's so smart and so ballsy. Look at her. She didn't even do her hair. She doesn't care."
7:50 PM: I said this when I saw her at the People's Choice Awards last month, but it bears repeating: Reese Witherspoon looks way better with bangs. Way better.
7:40 PM: Kate Blanchette looks almost perfect in her shimmering silvery get up, but her hairstyle isn't doing it for me at all. Too bad, because everything else is smokin'.
7:39 PM: Tracy: "What the fuck is that on Nicole Kidman's shoulder? Is it a tumor?"
7:33 PM: Tracy: "Anne Hathaway looks too cute. I can't take her seriously, with her gigantic eyes and Precious Moments doll face."
7:29 PM: That was a study in contrasts right there. Kirsten Dunst comes in looking like a car wreck in this weird, green, semi-translucent mermaid get up, and then right behind her is Gwyneth Paltrow who was firing on all cylinders, wearing this beautiful dusty-rose-colored gown that looked astonishing with her hair and skin tone. And yes, this is still me writing. Tracy hasn't taken over the keyboard.
7:26 PM: Wow. Helen Mirren is a GILF(IIWM).
7:17 PM: I did not want to see Ryan Seacrest's underwear. Not even just a half inch.
7:16 PM: The only Oscar nominated movie we've seen this year is Little Miss Sunshine. Tried to queueue up a few more on Netflix, but we got behind, unfortunately. So I'll sort of be using these awards to preview the big films. Worked last year.
7:06 PM: I am by no means a fashion expert, but that doesn't stop me from holding strong opinions on the subject. (The list of subject areas which I have zero expertise in yet hold strong opinions about is astonishingly long. You think you know, but trust me, you don't.) Here's one of those opinions: "Empire waists" should be outlawed. Seriously, ladies, get with it. "Empire waist" is nothing but a code phrase for "maternity dress".
7:00 PM: BTW, the title of this post? It's the annoying fucking question that Ryan Seacrest is asking every single person as they walk in. Because it's so cool to ask who someone's wearing as opposed to what they're wearing. Also, E! has a pair of dress analysts who are going over certain attendees with a telestrator. Penelope Cruz just walked in wearing this terrible huge pink fru-fru dress. Dumb.
6:53 PM: Holy shit does Jodie Foster look smoking hot. Wow. I didn't even recognize her at first. Unbelievable haircut.
6:48 PM: I totally do not get that "What Happens in Vegas" commercial with the psychic who just keeps staring at the dude.
6:45 PM: People, I feel a compulsion to live blog the Oscars this year. Yes, I know, this is just a further descent into mindlessness, but that's OK. I seriously need a little mindlessness at the moment. So away we go. Tracy and I are watching the E! red carpet special at the moment. It's wicked exciting.
OK, then. Bit of a headache ramping up now. At least I've progressed to the point where I can close my eyes without feeling like I'm falling off a cliff. Somewhat twitchy, though, so it's hard to type. (See? I wasn't kidding about that.) Oh, and my shins are killing me from all the walking around we did over the last two days.
Got back about half an hour ago. Tracy was kind enough to take the wheel for the three-hour return trip. Pondering the remainder of the day, I predict a great deal of nothing will be happening. Perfect night to zone out and watch the Oscars. Pics and stories and stuff later in the week, assuming I get the mental energy to focus on blogging.
Tartfest is upon us! The stunt liver is safely packed in the overnight bag for the trip to the city. I am properly hydrated. The wife is prettified. We are go for launch. Wish me luck. I imagine I'll need some, for as my patron saint likes to say, "When it's time to party, we will always party hard."
Mike is meeting Tracy and me at 4:30 PM at a bar called "DBA" on First Avenue between 2nd and 3rd for some pre-TartFest practice beers. Probably head over to Tart's around 7:00 PM or so. For those who will be there, I look forward to meeting you. For those who won't, I'll be sure to hoist a pint or two for you.
Recap on Monday, assuming I'm sobered up enough to type.
The Amazing Race: No update.
Rome: No update.
Battlestar Galactica: No update.
Heroes: Well, they sure did kick it back into high gear this week. With Peter having unlocked his powers and Syler continuing to augment his, it feels like everything's building up to a head. (Hopefully this doesn't mean the show's about to go on hiatus again.) The transformation of Peter's character was truly amazing to watch. In the stretch of an episode he went from being headstrong but mostly impotent to being The Man. Now I'm wondering if he's headed for the "In Danger of Being Overwhelmed by Ones Powers" phase of the prototypical superhero story arc. Based on the way he was smacking Isaac around, it's either that or he picked up some of Claude's bad attitude. Simone's death could be just the thing to send Peter temporarily to the dark side... I like Ando. Really do. But I'm happy to see Hiro kick him to the curb -- even if it's only temporary -- because that should free him up to focus on morphing into the super bad-ass Hiro we saw on the subway car. I can't wait to meet that dude for real. And btw: What exactly did Hiro do there when that chick tried to shoot them? At first I thought he just made time run backwards, but as a friend pointed out today, that wouldn't have made the gun blow up and throw her backwards... Hana is certainly intriguing, and not just because I envy anyone who can check and compose email using only their brain. But with each character they add there's always the threat that they're spreading themselves too thin... Claire finally confronts her dad. Will this lead to some elucidation of his character's status? So far, I've got him pegged as Lawful Neutral... And on a purely superficial note: Is it me, or is Parkman's wife getting homelier with each passing week?
House: Off this week.
Friday Night Lights: Jason Street is busting out, people. Quad rugby has given him a new lease on life, and it's a pleasure to watch. As Tracy said to me after this week's episode, no matter how things go for him in Dillon, he'll always be looked on with pity. But in his new life, hanging with the quadsters? He has a chance to be The Man again. And as we saw from his dalliance with the tattoo parlor chick, it's working out for him... And then we have QB1 and Julie, who were two steps from the boink before they backed off in an after-school special "Saving It" moment. Here's a question: They're two good kids who honestly like and care for each other. They had protection. Why not have sex? I mean, aside from the fact that Coach would have killed one of them and grounded the other for life? That whole thing just played right into the whole ridiculous sex-as-sacred, sex-as-dirty, sex-as-big-friggin'-deal mythology that so badly fucks up our culture's psyche. If there were ever two fictional teenagers who should have been given the green light to get it on, it's Matt and Julie.
Lost: "Although he walks among us, he is not one of us." That's what Jack's tattoo means, at least the part that's written in Thai (?) characters. As to what the other cool-looking stuff means, we're still in the dark. Another good episode here. Although I found the scene at the end where Jack gets his ass kicked by a gang of four Thai bad boys a bit cliched, the resolution of that bit of backstory nicely echoed the "tribal distrust of outsiders" theme we're seeing played out in real time on the island. And the bit the woman says to him about his true self being a leader, blah blah blah... Could they be setting Jack up to become the leader of the Others? That's the feeling I'm getting. They seem to be emphasizing the brittle, fearful nature of the Others' society, creating a void there that Jack could step into. Anyhow, just a thought. One final note: Not sure how I feel about this "Sherriff" woman who popped on the scene out of nowhere. Haven't we already met our Stern Hardass quota with this crew? I believe we have.
The Sarah Silverman Program: DVR delay.
Smallville: Off this week.
Supernatural: Off this week.
Survivor: At tribal council, when Jeff was seriously playing up the "What's wrong with you?" angle against Ravu, it made me a little nuts. I wanted so badly for one of the tribe members to stand up and say "Gee, Jeff, I can't imagine why we keep losing. Maybe it's because you set the other tribe up all pretty and nice while we're starving to death over in our shithole camp. You think maybe that has something to do with it?" Seriously. On the one hand, it's an interesting social experiment they've set up, and it certainly emphasizes, as Rocky said, the whole "rich get richer" dynamic. But Jeff (proxy for the show's producers, of course) can't then turn around and act all dumb about it. Anyhow... Hey, look! Two competitions that didn't involve puzzles! Awesome! The slip-and-slide thing looked like a ton of fun. The eating gross stuff competition? Not so much. Fucking pig snouts. That's right up there with the cow lips featured on Amazing Race last season in terms of brutal disgustingness. I've said it before: If I'm ever on Survivor, the first thing I'm telling my tribemates is "Hey, I can do any kind of crazy, hard-ass shit they put us up to, but I can't eat gross stuff. I'm not your guy." You know, just be up-front about it. Unlike Anthony, who stood there like a whiny little bitch claiming he could not swallow because he didn't have any spit. Please, dude. He should have gone home for that act, but instead nice, smart little Sylvia gets voted off. That just wasn't right. Favorite: Rocky. Least Favorite: Anthony.
The Office: Tartfest delay.
CSI: (2-15) I suppose it's wrong to be thrilled at the return of a serial killer, but let's face it, with Keppler gone, the return of the Miniatures Killer is exactly the shot in the arm this show needed. It's the best long-term story arc this show's had going since Nick got kidnapped and buried alive. The miniatures themselves are fascinating. Each time they feature one I'm like "Wait, could someone actually produce something that detailed by hand? Wouldn't they need incredibly advanced equipment?" And the way they depict the murders is just outstanding. This week's plot, of course, had that interesting twist where the cop ends up dying in place of the intended victim, but then the victim's brother (the mayor from Buffy!) uses the serial killer's plot as a cover for a mercy killing. Good stuff. (But wait: Would the carbon monoxide produced in a hearth be enough to kill someone? Seriously? I thought the reason people usually did the car-in-the-garage thing was that you needed to totally permeate the air with that shit.) Initially, my money was on Cake Thrower to be the killer. Any kid who throws their birthday cake on the ground has "serial killer" written all over them. But I was wrong. Apparently it's one of the million foster siblings he had. I can wait to find out which one, too. Let's keep this good thing going. (2-22) Tartfest delay.
Slices on a Thursday? Oh yeah. Don't act like you don't know why either. You know why. I said you know why. But just in case you don't, I'll tell you:
TARTFEST IS TOMORROW!!! WOO HOO!!!
And Tracy and I have the day off! So our three-day weekend of partying to the point of irresponsibility? That starts right about now. Seriously: I'm bouncing off of the fucking walls at the moment. I haven't been this excited about a party in quite a while. Two nights of Bloggerz Gone Wild in New York City? Are you shitting me? I don't even have the words. Not that that will stop me from writing about it.
Only one problem presents itself: Pacing... Must. Work. On. Pacing...
(Slice Track: Kid Rock - Wastin' Time)
How come spell checkers can't figure out that "that that" is a valid scenario for a repeated word? Really, folks. This is not a hard thing to code for.
(Slice Track: The Monkeys - I'm A Believer)
OK, I know: War? Bad. Killing? Bad. Suffering? Bad. Military-Industrial complex? Bad.
And yet... Actual functioning ray gun? You have to admit that's just a little bit cool.
(Slice Track: Extreme - Mutha (Don't Wanna Go To School Today))
Have I ever mentioned how much ass I kick at Scrabble? I'm sure I have, but just in case, I figure it warrants mentioning. "MrToast" is always ready to administer a beating if you're interested.
And no, I didn't intend for this to be Slices Of Toast: Man Of Few Words Edition. It's just working out that way.
(Slice Track: AC/DC - High Voltage)
Angelos sent out a link to this page of captioned cat pictures last week. It is some funny, funny, funny fuckin' shit. Personal favorites include "I'm on your keyboard, watching you fap", "I'm in ur room, steeln ur drive", "Go cry, emo kid" and, of course, "Invisible sandwich". No, really, I've scrolled through these three times and they still bring tears to my eyes.
Oh, and the one with the two cats looking at each other, one kinda sidelong? Jesus Fucking H. Christ. I'd make that my desktop wallpaper but I'd never type a word again 'cause I'd be too busy peeing myself.
(Slice Track: Loverboy - Workin' For The Weekend)
I know it's only Spring Training and all, and at this time of year pretty much everyone sees their team through rose-colored glasses, but hey, the Yanks rotation could be pretty fuckin' tight if a few things break right. I mean, Wang, Pettite, Moose, all solid. Igawa has some upside as a homeless man's Matsuzaka. Pavano could be healthy and poised for a comeback. And Phil Hughes? He is going to fuck some peoples' shit up sooner or later. Could be this year...
(Slice Track: John Fogerty - Centerfield)
So Lieberman's making noise about how he might switch parties. I say go for it, Joe. Do it. Put that "R" after your name. Obviously, having control of the Senate right now doesn't mean much for the Dems, who can't even pass a fucking toothless, non-binding resolution. So take that plunge, Mr. Senator. I want you to join the GOP. Because when you do, it will be the final public confirmation of what a clueless piece of shit you've become. Everyone will know, once and for all, what a punk-ass bitch you are. No more hiding, no more pretense. The label, the scarlet "R", will be hanging around your neck, advertising to the world where you really stand.
So switch, motherfucker. Stop running your mouth and just do it. Or are you too much of a two-faced, cowardly douche to put your money where your mouth is?
(Slice Track: Howard Jones - Life In One Day)
Overheard at Casa de Toast:
Me: "What's that?"
Tracy: "The top from the anchovy tin."
Me: "Anchovy tin?"
Tracy: "Yeah, for the salad."
Me: "Oh. Well thanks for making that executive decision."
Tracy: "What do you mean?"
Me: "I don't like anchovies."
Tracy: "Caesar salad is supposed to have anchovies."
Me: "Oh. Excellent."
Tracy: "Yeah? Well you can just go watch Rome if you don't believe me."
I remember commenting, oh, a year or so ago, in a television thread somewhere, that I believed we were living in a New Golden Age of Television. The evidence was all around me. Show after great show I couldn't resist. I think it was last year, when Invasion and Surface came out (and were then cancelled, of course).
I stand by that assessment. These days, you can't swing a remote without hitting a great show. HBO seemed to set the bar half a decade ago, but since then so many others have followed. You've got Sci-Fi bringing BSG to the table, obviously, but how about the networks? Lost? Heroes? Tell me these are anything like the shows we suffered through ten years ago. Even more prosaic dramas like Friday Night Lights have taken huge steps forward in acting and writing. We're just living in different times.
Of course, while I've got plenty of television addicts like John Howard backing me in my television bliss, there's still people like Angelos who persist in rolling their eyes at the TV "wasteland" and watching nothing but crap sitcoms and Discovery Channel specials.
Well here comes an article in the most recent Newsweek making the exact same point I've been trying to push. It's worth a read.
Contrary to what you might think from my weekly TV posts, I'm not someone who's usually given to sitting in front of the box for hours on end. It just so happens that, at this moment in history there is so much Good Shit on it's crazy. You should appreciate it.
Had to do a return run last night as the garage was overflowing with empties. Now I don't know about you, but when I dump a cartload of empties on a store, I feel morally obliged to buy something from them. So over to the cooler I strolled, and no sooner did I start browsing than I saw Lagunitas Brewing Company's Hairy Eyeball Ale. There's a name that gets your attention.
The Pour: This beer develops very little in the way of a head. Maybe a quarter inch or less of light tan foam that is gone inside ninety seconds, leaving the wispiest of films behind. I can see almost zero visible carbonation in the glass. The body is a very dark brown with hints of cherry. The aroma off the top of the glass is faint and vaguely malty. Not a ton of character for the nose to attach itself to.
Taste: The very first thing to present itself here is the alcohol flavor. It's strong and right up front, suggesting a barley wine. Next in order of intensity is the malt hit. In the main, I'm getting something that's typical for a brown ale here. There are hints of sherry and light milk chocolate rising up in there too, however, lending a sweetness that sits nicely on the tip of the tongue. The hops come in behind the malt initially, rounding out the flavor and providing a nice balance, and then take full control of the medium-length aftertaste. This beer has a fairly heavy body which, combined with the sweet malt flavors, walks things right up to the line of syrupiness, stopping just short. Oh, and did I mention the strong alcohol taste? The 9% ABV alcohol taste? It's right there through to the end.
Verdict: For a beer that's heavy, malty, high in alcohol and low in carbonation, this goes down way too smoothly. (He says as he opens a second one to confirm his tasting notes.) Seriously, if you're looking for a six pack to get you fucked up with minimal effort, grab some Hairy Eyeball.
Now I have to watch Dancing With The Stars.
Antonio Vivaldi - "Autumn - (1) Allegro" (The Four Seasons)
Romance. Weddings. Wine commercials.
The Beastie Boys - "Something's Got To Give" (Check Your Head)
This album smokes all the Beasties' other post-Licensed To Ill efforts.
Alice Cooper - "Teenage Frankenstein" (Constrictor)
Transports me directly back to freshman year at RPI. I totally burnt out this cassette.
Dido - "Here With Me" (No Angel)
I have loved this woman's voice since the first time I heard this song in the Roswell intro. (And on a related note, there's a show that died way before its time.)
They Might Be Giants - "Hotel Detective (She Was A)" (They Might Be Giants)
"She's got her ear to the walls and she's tapping the calls."
Joe Jackson - "San Francisco Fan" (Jumpin' Jive)
I don't know if this style is considered "swing" or "big band" or whatever, but I like it.
Aerosmith - "Dream On" (Greatest Hits)
"Sing with me, sing for the years, sing for the laughter, sing for the tears."
Ryan Adams - "Political Scientist" (Love Is Hell, Pt. 1)
Thanks, Fridge. This guy almost makes up for Muse.
Avril Lavigne - "Forgotten" (Under My Skin)
Sing it, Avril! Rock out, girl!
Extreme - "Suzi (Wants Her All Day What?!)" (Pornograffitti)
"Suzi sells seashells by the what?!"
Nine Inch Nails - "Sanctified" (Pretty Hate Machine)
"Heaven's just a rumor she'll dispel - As she walks me through the nicest parts of hell."
Saliva - "Raise Up" (Back Into Your System)
I would like to thank the producers of The Fast And The Furious for introducing me to these guys. Man, do they kick insane amounts of ass.
The Replacements - "Gary's Got A Boner" (Let It Be)
And on that note...
I think this might be the most eclectic Poddery Barn I've done yet. Fun times.
There truly is an answer to every question out there in the tubes.
Mötley Crüe - "Smokin' In The Boys Room" (Theatre Of Pain)
Competent cover job, but they could've rocked this a lot harder.
Paul Westerberg - "Knockin' On Mine" (14 Songs)
I like Paul Westerberg but this anti-intellectual anthem shit definitely rubs me the wrong way.
Paul Westerberg - "Mannequin Shop" (14 Songs)
Garrrrrr!!! Fuckin' iPod randomization yields back-to-back songs off the same album and neither of them are tracks I actually like!
Suzanne Vega - "Blood Makes Noise" (99.9°F)
This is one of those CD's I got trying to come up with 12 titles for a BMG Music club offer. Took me years to get around to listening to it, but when I did I found it surprisingly good.
Nirvana - "Jesus Doesn't Want Me For A Sunbeam" (Unplugged)
Best Unplugged set ever, and there is no close second.
Green Day - "Fashion Victim" (Warning)
This song illustrates how Green Day is like pizza and sex.
Nine Inch Nails - "The Big Come Down" (The Fragile)
Note to self: Listen to this album in it's entirety sometime soon.
Blink 182 - "Anthem" (Enema Of The State)
In addition to the tight, kick-ass songwriting, I just love the production on this album.
Ice-T - "Bitches 2" (Original Gangster)
Classic shit right here from the true godfather of Gangsta rap. Good story telling, great rhyme flow.
Judas Priest - "All The Way" (Point Of Entry)
Side two of this album is one of the great hidden treasures of the heavy metal universe.
Kiss - "Hard Luck Woman" (Double Platinum)
It is astonishing to me that, when Kiss was big in the seventies, my parents' generation dismissed them as "just noise". Half the songs on Double Platinum would now qualify as "easy listening".
Faith No More - "The Real Thing" (The Real Thing)
Brilliant and fascinating song. Perfectly captures both the experience of transcendence, of "awakening", and also the awful come-down.
Treat Her Right - "Don't Look Back" (Treat Her Right)
Ha! My iPod decided to throw Angelos a bone.
This headline just came across the BBC RSS feed:
Officer Suspended in Dink Probe
The story's pretty good too, in that it contains repeated references to "Mr. Dink".
This is too funny. ESPN has a poll up asking "Who should be the Bears' starting quarterback in 2007?" The choices are Rex Grossman, Brian Griese, Kyle Orton, and "Other". As of 5:30 PM, "Other" leads with 37%...
Tags: Rex Grossman
Heroes: You know, of the shows I review, this is the hardest to synopsize. So much going on in, what, forty minutes of television? OK, here goes. After several attempts to play the Dickhead Who Knows Something But Won't Help, Invisible Guy finally comes to Peter's rescue just as Nathan and Mohinder are trying to lock him down. Matt is trying to nail Claire's dad for secretly holding Syler, but HRG pulls a fast one on him, resulting in FBI chick putting the kibosh on their investigation and Matt getting suspended from the force for six months. DL visits Niki in her padded cell to bitch about how he can't make ends meet -- dude, you can walk through walls and you can't figure out a way to make money off that? -- so she decides to ask for professional help corralling Jessica. Both of them are unaware during this conversation that Micah's genetically-enhanced facility with electronic devices has made cash flow a non-issue. In the big shocker, Claire discovers that her birth mother is still alive (and appears to be a human Zippo). We are also teased with the fact that Claire's birth father will be revealed this week (Tracy's money is on it being Nathan). Finally, in the most annoying twist of the episode, Hiro has completely "lost" his powers. This seems to be a recurring plot device in superhero stories (see Superman II and Spiderman II for just two examples) and it always aggravates me. It's perfectly clear that the whole problem is in Hiro's head, and yeah it'll be cool when he gets the bad-ass Samurai sword, but it rings false for me that it has to come to that. Of course, Hiro's thread did have one awesome twist when it was revealed that his dad is... George... Takei. (I wish I could type that like he says it.)
House: This last episode was a House first: There was no case. No patient with a bizarre disease that it takes three tries to solve -- each risking the person's life to an ever-greater degree -- and that eventually yields itself to some stunning leap of logic by our curmudgeonly diagnostician. Nope, this was just House and a rape victim who won't let him walk away from her. And it was great. Out of character, unusual, and... great. A complete surprise. The final twenty minutes were basically an extended rap session on the (non)existence of God and the existential ramifications of bad things happening to good people. I mean, I'm not hoping House goes soft or anything, but it was quite interesting seeing him actually open up for the first time in two and half seasons. (Meanwhile, in a throw-away side plot, Dr. Cameron eases the passing of a terminal cancer patient by exposing him to her hotness.)
Friday Night Lights: Four big developments this past week. First, after visiting him at his home and forging an emotional connection grounded in their shared love of the game (cough), coach Taylor clears Smash to play. Now the question is whether the whole steroids storyline just fades into memory or whether the writers are just cooling it off so they can bring it back in a crucial situation a few weeks down the road. (Just before the state championship, maybe?) Second, Street blurts out the news of his and Lyla's engagement in front of her dad, who does not take the news well. Discussions around this development later lead to Street sharing a moment with coach Taylor (the world's most emotionally-available coach?) outside the courthouse prior to, you know, suing him and stuff. Third, QB1 gets the superstar treatment from the Rally Girls, who cajole him into some hot-tub shots for their annual calendar. Saracen then lies about this to Julie (stoooooo-pid) and she, predictably, flips out on him. (Please, please, please don't let them break up.) Fourth and finally, Riggins visits his dad to get a signature for a court form, and father and son wind up having a twenty-four-hour bonding session which seems to end angrily as Dad uses a golf bet to avoid attending Riggins' upcoming game but -- wait! -- in the closing moments, as the Panthers take the field, there he is, at the gate, waiting to see his son. Yeah, you laugh, but Tracy and I both teared up. Next week: Football. (Ugh.)
Smallville: There's no better recipe for jaw-dropping outrageousness than Clark + Red Kryptonite. It all begins when Lois buys a love-potion lipstick at a local Valentine's Day bash which causes her to fall in love with the Boy O' Steel. She then performs an oral transfer of this concoction to Clark, utterly ignorant of the effect that the "secret ingredient" will have on him. This all culminates in a priceless scene where Clark crashes Lana and Lex's engagement party and proceeds to embarrass his mom (whoring after Lionel), Lana (going after Lex to hurt Clark), Lex (always wanting to steal Clark's life), Chloe (just 'cause), then Lana and Lex again by revealing to the assembled crowd that Lana is preggers. Fucking killer three-minute span right there. The episode wraps up with a crucial sequence in Clark's barn. During a confrontation over Lana, Lex tries to stab Clark with an awl, which crumples and falls to the floor. And Lana sees it. The teaser for next week suggests that finally -- finally! -- Lana might be about to discover the Super Secret. It is about. Fucking. Time.
Supernatural: Uh-boy. Kind of a nauseatingly religion-drenched episode as Sam and Dean track down an "avenging angel" outside Providence, Rhode Island. I simply was not prepared to see Sam, who I've got a bit of a man crush on, admit that he's a... a... believer. It kind of freaked me out. Anyhow, turns out the "angel" was the avenging spirit of a recently-deceased priest. But still, the damage was done. The seal was broken. They brought Him into the story. Here's hoping things don't head south as a result...
The Office: Looks like the Pam-Jim-Karen thing is going to keep dragging on for a while. The girls had a talk, and rather than being honest about her feelings for Jim, Pam assured Karen that she was, like, totally okay with her dating the love of her fucking life. (OK, she didn't actually put it that way.) Meanwhile, dueling parties are staged as the women hold a wedding shower for Phyllis and the guys (to be fair) are treated to a bachelor bash (without an actual bachelor). Michael's moment of excruciating discomfort with the stripper was hysterical, but it was also something I can actually identify with. I've never understood how a guy is supposed to get aroused with two dozen other guys around him egging him on. It just seems weird to me. (Yeah, I know I'm in the minority here, but still.) The real fun, though, was over at the girls' party with skeevy Ben Franklin. Bllllllrrrrghghghghg. Well played, my creepy friend. Oh, and hey! Where's Andy??? Did they fire him?
CSI: Considering this show has tackled both infantilism and gratification via asphyxiation, I was surprised at how much this particular episode creeped me out. It's not the gigolo thing. Male whoring isn't anything new or exotic. No, it's the whole "selling a relationship" angle. That's some weird shit right there. Didn't help, either, that the guy at the center of this plot was a freakishly ugly thing: Giant, arching, Freddie-Prinze clown eyebrows, no chin, boyish in an altogether asexual way, and this is the guy women are blowing their life savings to have a fake relationship with? By the time it was revealed that the victim was the dude's Mom, who was making a sickeningly futile attempt to, um, "reconnect" with him, my capacity to be grossed out was completely exhausted.
Rome: Superbowl-induced DVR delay.
Battlestar Galactica: Off this week.
9:58 PM: Congratulations to Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts, winners of Superbowl XLI by a score of 29 to 17. It wasn't the prettiest game in the world, but that's OK. With this post-season run, Peyton and the Colts proved themselves in every way possible. They announced the arrival of their new D by containing the league's #2 rusher. They won a low-scoring slug-fest against the league's top-rated defense. Then they won a shootout against the Pats, mounting the biggest comeback in conference championship history. And finally, they won a sloppy game in shitty conditions against yet another tough defense. Anyone have any more questions for 'em? Anyone want to talk any more shit about Peyton choking in big games? No, I didn't think so. Good night, all. Thanks for a great NFL season here, and be sure to join us for week one on the Couch next September.
9:08 PM: End of the third. Colts and Bears traded field goals at a 2 to 1 clip, leaving Indy with a 22 - 17 lead. Other than that not much to remark on. As Angelos notes in comments, every single statistic says the Colts should be killing the Bears, and yet the game sits at under a TD differential. Not a comfortable place to be for those of us pulling for Peyton.
8:07 PM: God, Prince sucks. I'm trying to figure out what aggravates me so much about him these days, because I used to be a pretty big Prince fan in the 80's. You know what it is? He's become his very own tribute band. You see him now and it's like he's lifelessly, mechanically trying to replicate exactly what he was during the Purple Rain era. It's just embarrassing. Grow or go, dude.
7:58 PM: Question of the night: How has Shark still not been cancelled?
7:56 PM: Halftime. Adam Vinatieri shanks a FG attempt to the left, leaving the Colts lead at 16 - 14. Wait, let me type that again because I can't believe it happened: Adam Vinatieri shanked a field goal. In the playoffs. Now I've seen everything.
7:50 PM: Back-to-back turnovers for the second time tonight and we're still in the first half. Yeah, this won't be remembered as one of the cleanest Superbowls ever played.
7:34 PM: Touchdown! Dominic Rhodes! Nice drive there by the Colts. Two big passes in a row by Manning to Harrison and then Clark. Colts take the lead 16 - 14. Sweet.
7:17 PM: It's official! We have our first excellent Superbowl commercial. The Coke ad with the Grand Theft Auto dude who starts being nice to everyone? Hysterical.
7:15 PM: End of the first quarter. Bears 14 - Colts 6. Sloppy game so far due to the weather. Not real promising for the Colts. This rain is the one fucking thing that could truly undo them.
6:51 PM: And a turnover by Chicago on the kickoff. Outstanding. This is Indy's chance to erase that damned opening TD... except that fucking Addai fumbles it on the ensuing play. Jesus Fuck! And then a HUGE 52-yard run by Thomas Jones. ARRRGH! OK, this is apparently going to be one of those games...
6:48 PM: Touchdown, Manning to Wayne, 53 yards!!! Beautiful pass to a wide-open Reggie Wayne. Of course, we have to hope the missed XP off that stupid botched snap doesn't fuck them in the end. Bears 7 - Colts 6 with six minutes and change left in the first quarter.
6:29 PM: Um, just about the worst possible way a game can start, no? Giving up a TD on the opening kickoff return? But, fine, whatever. Colts can afford to spot the Bears seven, right? Right?
6:28 PM: Goddammit. Colts call tails on the coin toss and it comes up heads. Fucking chokers.
6:20 PM: I love Billy Joel, but that was kind of a lackluster anthem. Couple of false notes, not a lot of power left in his voice these days, desultory job on the piano. Meh.
4:00 PM: Two things about that Jericho ad: First... Jericho didn't get cancelled? Second, they're referring to the twelve episodes they've got coming up as "the new season". So did BSG blaze some sort of weird trail here? Are shows going to start having two "seasons" per calendar year? In the past, a television "season" has always run from the Fall through the Spring. Defining them in terms of blocks of episodes is definitely a new development.
3:59 PM: That Stevie Nicks performance has to rank as one of the Most Awful Rock n' Roll Moments in history. Jesus, woman, hang it up. You look like shit and you can't sing anymore (not that you ever really could).
3:45 PM: Quick squirrel update. I don't know what's going on, but in the last month Fuckface and his posse have gotten unbelievably brazen. Used to be a rap on the glass would send them flying from the bird feeder back to their tree. Now there's no amount of slamming on the window that will budge them. Today, I come home and Tracy tells me that there had been two of them on either side of the feeder, and she was standing in the door whipping nuts at them and they wouldn't move. She then tried to hit them with a basketball (missed, obviously) and they ignored that too. Finally, she had to actually poke one with a broomstick to get it to move. I mean, what the fuck is next? Are we going to come in one night and find them on the couch eating our snacks?
3:24 PM: Um, how many more months (years?) until the "Heavily-Gelled Messy Hair That Sticks Up In The Air At Random Angles" hairstyle goes out of fashion? Because, really, the more ubiquitous it becomes, the more stupid it's starting to look.
2:36 PM: OK, seeing as it appears we're going to have a Norbitt commercial every single commercial break, I have to ask: Why the fuck do so many black male comedians seem to think it is the height of comedy to dress up as fat black women?
12:00 PM: Friends, readers, football fans: That greatest of days on the sporting calendar is finally upon us! Grab a cold one, fluff up a cushion and sit your ass down for Superbowl Sunday on the TwoGlasses Virtual Couch™. Right about now I figure the first of the pregame shows have to be getting underway somewhere, so why not get the couch kicking early as well? We'll have random commentary and occasional beer blogging between now and kickoff, followed by the usual piercing game-time insights as the title match between the Colts and Bears unfolds.
Aside from ESPN's Mike and Mike show and a handful of articles I've scanned in the Courant's sports page, I have been blissfully unexposed to the last two weeks of Superbowl buildup, leaving me fully charged and ready for today's 10-hour-long extravaganza. There was one great article by Dan Le Batard in ESPN Magazine discussing the random unfairness that landed Peyton Manning with the "choker" label while Tom Brady, despite having ended the Pats' last two seasons by throwing picks, will be forever "clutch". Unfortunately, while I'd just love to share this piece with you, it appears to be print only. Worth a look if you see the current issue of The Magazine laying around your doctor's or dentist's office.
Anyhow, on to today's game. The overwhelming consensus of the experts is that the Colts win this game. And I mean "overwhelming" as in "I'm unaware of a single sportscaster or sports writer who has picked the Bears." This is a little disturbing, in that it sets up a perfect "Shock the World" scenario for Chicago. Even more troublesome is the forecast for rain, wind and fog in the Miami area, which threatens to ground the Colts air show. Cause for concern? Sure, I guess. But something tells me that nothing -- not the weather, not the media, not anything -- will see Peyton Manning denied. Today, the best quarterback in the NFL earns the ultimate validation of his already-HOF-caliber career. Colts win, 27-20.
Little Miss Sunshine: (Warning: Some spoilers.) Last week, Tracy and I bumped this movie up to the top of our queue so that we could see at least one Oscar contender before the awards. Good call on our part. I'll say right up front that I'm a sucker for this sort of movie: The ensemble cast of flawed and broken humans that finds strength and happiness together in the face of life's absurdities. Throw in the always-fun road movie angle, plus the fact that this got a big thumbs-up from my film guru Fridge, and I pretty much knew I was going to love Little Miss Sunshine. Great performances all around, but especially strong jobs by Steve "Hey This Dude Can Act" Carell as Frank, the nation's preeminent gay, suicidal Proust scholar, and Paul Dano as Dwayne, the Nietsche-obsessed wannabe fighter-pilot teen who steals the first half of the movie as he struggles to interact with his family while observing a self-imposed vow of silence. The Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, however, goes to the VW micro bus, for it is this ridiculous vehicle that keeps injecting silliness back into the movie whenever it threatens to become too serious. The push-starting gimmick never gets old, and I don't think I've ever seen my wife laugh more uncontrollably than she did when that stupid horn wouldn't stop bleating and whining as they're driving along. (OK, here's the spoiler.) As for the final scene - the Little Miss Sunshine competition itself - I was completely taken by surprise. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I guess in the back of my mind I was expecting some feel-good, Disney-esque ending where fat little Olive pulls off some incredible tap-dancing routine or something and wins it all. What she gives us instead is four minutes of "Ohmyfuckinggod I can't believe this". Just a hysterical and priceless example of victory in defeat. For a brief span, it's Olive's world and we're just living in it. Expected: 7.5 -- Actual: 7.5
Chicken Run: Here's my question: How is it a better business model to convert your 100-or-so chickens into chicken pies -- a one-time proposition -- instead of leveraging their egg production as an ongoing investment? Throw in what had to be an enormous capital outlay for the automated chicken-to-pie conversion equipment and it just seems like Mrs. Tweedy was giving in to short-sightedness and frustration, to say nothing of returning to a form of industrialism that is clearly outmoded here in the new millennium. Oh, wait, what's that you say? These aren't the themes the movie maker wants me to investigate? Well, I'm sorry, but the more obvious freedom versus slavery, rebellion versus complacency storylines weren't nearly as compelling as advertised. See, I actually remember reading a review of this film when it came out that called it "subversive", so I was more than a little disappointed at the cookie-cutter plot. If I'm going to watch a "G" movie, there better be something more in it for me. Aside from some great puns and goofy wordplay -- the movie is packed with these -- there just wasn't much of interest here. To be fair, the animation was pretty cool. The stop-action filming using clay models and characters interspersed with real human items like spoons and zippers was a huge relief from the torrent of CGI-animated films that have lately overrun the market. As a mostly digital guy I feel weird saying this, but these chickens seemed far more gritty and real than the protagonists in The Incredibles or Toy Story could ever hope to be. Overall, though, this definitely fell short of my expectations. Expected: 6.0 -- Actual: 4.5
I used to think there was nothing more annoying at the grocery store than getting stuck in line behind an old lady who's paying for her groceries by check. I was wrong. Do you know what's even more annoying? Getting stuck behind an old lady who's paying for her groceries by check in the self-checkout line.
Friday night and it's time for... BEER AND BOURBON! Oh, and Slices of Toast too. WHOOOOO-Boy, what a two-day stretch at the ol' office. Definitely occasions some two-fisted consumption. Friends and readers, I have truly passed into the long, dark night of the software designer's soul. The lesson I have recently been forced to (re)learn? Never, ever, ever assume that a project cannot get more fucked up than it already is. If you do, people and events will immediately conspire to prove you wrong. But, hey, nothing that a quiet weekend at home with the wife and a fully-stocked liquor cabinet can't cure, at least temporarily. Oh, and I think I heard something about some big football game that's being played on Sunday...
(Slice Track: Cheap Trick - "If You Want My Love")
When I navigated over to my home-slice Fridge's blog this morning, I was prepared to see pretty much anything except for a post titled The Case Against Religious Moderation. And yet that is what I saw. Really: I went back just now and checked and, yes, it's still there. You should go read it.
Heh. The Man Comes Around...
(Slice Track: The Beatles - "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da")
Uh oh. Turns out I may have been premature in giving Mr. Howard QOTD honors. Here's Josh Marshall on the continuing Karbala nonsense:
"[I]f it turns out the culprits behind the Karbala raid were not Iranian-trained but US-trained, should we attack ourselves?"
That's some stiff competition there, John. Feel free to vote for a winner in the comments section.
(Slice Track: Joe Jackson - "It's Different For Girls")
John Howard, commenting on the spastic overreaction to the Cartoon Network's goofy little marketing devices:
"Perhaps the worst result of the September 11th terrorist attacks, other than the obvious loss of life, is that it has given people an excuse to act like complete and utter pussies."
Truer words have never been spoken.
Click through and read the rest, too. Funny stuff.